Renee and Dan Buffalo are surrounded by hundreds who gathered to be in the presence of Gayuna Cealo in Burma.

A serenity
in simplicity

Buddhist monk Gayuna Cealo
finds true happiness from within

By Nancy Arcayna

My mother taught her children, "You may be better off than someone, but better than no one." Those who live to accumulate material goods often don't understand how others can be happy living simply. Many have the tendency to focus on the things they lack rather than the things they have.

Even those who want to slow down find it difficult to find peace of mind while facing everyday realities. You may want to quit your stressful job, but you've still got to pay for shelter and keep your family fed.

Burmese monk Gayuna Cealo suggests starting with a joyful heart and doing things that you love rather than doing things out of obligation or sympathy.

Gayuna Cealo.

"Sympathy results from judgment," he said through single-monikered translator Amica. "People put themselves in a given situation and make an interpretation on what must be unbearable and suffering."

One may have nothing and be happy enough, he explained. "However, people who can't survive with fewer things often judge with their own standard and offer unnecessary things with sympathy."

Cealo worries that material goods and money offered by well-intentioned Americans out of sympathy also teach the recipients to only rely upon others. "They would engage in sympathy to survive and no longer live their own independent lives."

A LITTLE MORE than 10 years ago, Cealo had another life as a businessman and renowned chef in Japan, following his mother's ambition. She had been told when he was 3 that he had a spiritual destiny, but she dismissed the idea, hiding religious notions from him as he grew up.

During a visit to Burma in 1992, Cealo climbed the sacred mountain Khiak-Htiyo (pronounced chai-tea-o), and upon returning to his home in Japan, he gave away his possessions. After making a second journey to the top of the mountain, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk.

Cealo now intends to release people from suffering by helping them find their right path. "Imitating others is not the answer," he said. "Gautama Siddhartha followed his own path and achieved his own realization. He is not the imitation of anyone. The same goes for Jesus Christ also."

Dan Buffalo, in the foreground, and his wife Renee Buffalo had an opportunity to help children in need during a recent trip to Burma to see Gayuna Cealo.

CEALO HAS NO organization or political affiliation. His goal is to remain on his own path of compassion by healing suffering hearts and filling empty stomachs. In his travels he distributes rice, money, clothing, medicine and blankets to the needy. He also offers support to several monasteries and orphanages in Burma and Cambodia.

After attending one of his talks, Renee and Dan Buffalo, of Honolulu, were invited to join Cealo on an eye-opening mission to Burma, with the idea that those who visit return as windows to other lives.

"Our visit had a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of people who received much-needed food, clothing, medicines and infrastructure such as bridge/school repairs and construction," said Dan, who is a hydrogeologist. Renee is a registered nurse.

The Buffalos quickly learned that those of us living in the West, who have such great access to the material world, can make a huge difference in other peoples' lives with minimal material or personal sacrifice. Basics of food and clothing go far, without disrupting or corrupting rural lifestyles.

The couple said they jumped at the opportunity to "do something good in the world, travel to an exotic place and fulfill a childhood dream."

Reports of physical healings, spiritual awakenings or other transforming experiences are common among those in Cealo's presence, according to the Buffalos. "His message is simple and appeals immediately to one's heart," said Dan. Cealo works with people, "soul to soul."

"I had chronic knee pain for six months that was healed by touch at his monastery," said Dan. "I felt a pop when hands were applied, and it's been 90 percent better ever since.

The Burmese monk is shown conducting a Phohealing session.

"I am a scientist, so this was a bit hard to believe. But I am grateful and don't try to figure it out," he said. "I've greatly expanded my belief system as to what is truly possible in this world."

THE CHILDREN Cealo meets on his journeys help to keep him on his path of compassion.

"I go to the actual location and see what they truly need through my own eyes, then take direct action. I give with all my might if I find what they need for their independence," he said. "I take no notice of numbers of children (helped). It might be 10,000 or one. If one gives blessings in order to change something intentionally with certain expectations, it proves that one is attached to the result.

"I advise people not to be attached to any results at all, just to enjoy the process with no judgment in any way, and to move toward the right and true, neutral motives and the state of peace.

"I can interpret that children's smiles prove how their lives change. That is all I can see. However, it is very true that the smiles have increased. I have no mind of giving blessings but just offer what they need now for their self-reliance with an eye to their future 10 years or 20 years later."

"Peace begins with the heart," Dan said. The question then is, How big is your heart?

Want to help?

Cealo will be appearing at the following locations:

>> Serendipity Books 'n Gifts at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Call 949-4711.
>> Talk and Meditation in Manoa, 2245 Oahu Ave. Call 955-1798.
>> Unity Church of Hawaii, 7 p.m. Friday. Call 735-4436.
>> Buddhist Study Center, 7 p.m. next Tuesday. Call 973-6555.

To schedule a private session with Cealo, call Dan or Renee Buffalo at 923-3151, or e-mail There is a suggested donation of $16. Payments for healing sessions vary. All proceeds benefit Cealo's work in Burma and Cambodia.

While in Hawaii, Cealo is in need of meals and transportation. To help, contact Renee Buffalo at

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