Buddhism in Burma

Buddhism is one of the largest religions practiced worldwide. It originated roughly 2500 years ago and has since branched into many variations of the same belief.  The one thing that does not change across the different sects of Buddhism is the form of teaching. Buddhist philosophy says that meditation is at the heart of the Buddhists way of life, which helps people better understand and work the mind.

In Burma, the specific form of Buddhism practiced is Theravada, and the associated traditions.  This is the same form of Buddhism commonly practiced in Sri Lanka and Thailand. The followers of Buddhism make up 89% of the country’s population. Of all practicing Buddhist countries, Burma is one of the most religious.  The monks in the population, spend time practicing the religion every day day and are very important, even honored, members of the Burmese society.

In the Theravada tradition, the parents send their children to receive a Buddhist education in Kyaungs. There, they will learn the Pali Canon; the story of Gautama Buddha, the 550 Jakata tales, the ten great incarnations and the 38 Buddhist beatitudes. Before the British colonial administrative times, the older monks would teach the young ones. Now, there are missionary schools for that. There were also female monks called “Bhikkhuni” (nun), but in recent times the governing council of Buddhism in Myanmar ruled that, women don’t really have a purpose in modern society anymore; a point disagreed upon by some male monks.

(Jenna Barbusci)

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