Freedom of religion is practiced in Myanmar, although a majority (some 89.1%) are Buddhists in Myanmar. But Myanmar seems democratic that Buddhism is not defined as the official religion of the country, like most Islamic countries does. Faith and religion are a little hard to differentiate or divide, and they are often very much inter-related or confused. All teaching by a religion is generally considered as religious matters, while other customs and traditional beliefs not taught by a religious body is considered as faith. In addition to that, superstition often influences the faith and the lives of the Myanmar people.
Teravada Buddhism / Orthodox Buddhism
Just like Roman Catholic and Protestants, there are 2 major churchs in Buddhism: Teravada and Mahayana. Teravada Buddhism is the orthodox church, and it dominates in Myanmar, Thailand, and southeast Asia. Buddhist meditation, the practice of mental concentration leading ultimately through a succession of stages to the final goal of spiritual freedom, nirvana. Meditation occupies a central place in Buddhism and combines, in its highest stages, the discipline of progressively increased introversion with the insight brought about by wisdom. Meditation, though important in all schools of Buddhism, has developed characteristic variations within different traditions.
Not many know that there is a flag dedicated for Buddhism. Here it is. Each color and stripes has its own meanings. We hope to present it to you soon.
Heaven & Hell
Heaven and hell, in the oriental way, might be different from what you might already know. There are 31 forms of beings, 6 floors of heaven, and 7 floors of hell.
- According to Theravada Buddhism, there are 31 planes:
- 20 planes of Brahmas, or higher spiritual beings
- 6 planes of Nats or Devas, or lower spiritual beings
- Human existence
- Peta, Apaya beings-in-woe
- Asuraka, Apaya beings in-demi-woe
- Hell, beings-in-torment, composed of 8 floors
The Last 10 lives of Buddha
- As you may already know that Buddhists believe life after death. The last 10 lives of Buddha is most prominent, and many wrote about these in the past. They are:
- Prince Taymi
- Thuwunna Tharma
- Prophet Mahaw-tha-htar
- Widura Minister
- King Weithantayar
5 Buddhas on this Planet
- Scientists are arguing that aliens or E.T. (extraterrestrial) exist. Will you be surprised to know that Buddhists believe in aliens? UFO? Just kidding.
- Buddha taught the followers that there are other planets, other different types of beings. Yes, not much westerners knows this! And also about how Buddhists believe that there are 5 Buddhas on this planet earth. Out of the 5, four Buddha has came, and one more is to come.
- Kotekathan Buddha
- Kawnargon Buddha
- Kuthapha Buddha
- Gawtama Buddha
- Areinmadeya Buddha (the up-coming Buddha)
Three Gems: Three Ratana
- Myanmar Buddhists believe that the followings are the 3 invaluable gems in life. For those 3 gems, wars were fought in our history.
- buddha: the enlighten one
- dhamma: the teachings
- sangha: the follower monks
- Buddhist Bible is now available in digital format. The Buddhist bible published in book form is in about 30 volumes. Now it is in one single CD! There were a few monks in history who could memorize the whole bible by heart!
- Buddhist Crusade
- A war broke out between King Anawrahtar of Bagan and the Mon King Manuhar, when King Manuhar refused to hand over the Buddhist Bible to Bagan. After the war, King Manuhar was captured and was kept under restrictions for a long time in Bagan until his death. He built Manuhar Temple while he was there.
- Buddhist calendar started to count when Buddha passed away at the age of 80, which is that of the Thai's. If you would like to know the year in the Buddhist Era, calculate
- Current year in Buddhist Era = 544 + current year in AD
7 sacred days
- Monday, Full Moon Day of Warso: Buddha left the kingdom
- Tuesday, Full Moon Day of Kason: Buddha died
- Wednesday, Full Moon Day of Kason: Buddha obtained Buddhaship
- Thursday, Full Moon Day of Warso: pregnancy of Buddha began
- Friday, Full Moon Day of Kason: Buddha was given birth
- Saturday, Full Moon Day of Warso: Buddha preached for first time
- Sunday, Moonless Day of Kason: Buddha's body was cremated
4 Misleadings / Biasness
- mislead by desire
- mislead by anger
- mislead by fear
- mislead by mismanagement
5 Enemies, which can turn bad
- who hates
- being in nether worlds
- birth defects
- being in bad society
- doing only the bad
5 great lost
- lost of relatives
- lost of wealth
- lost by disease
- lost by misbelieve
- lost by misbehaviour
Buddhist Monk hood
Because entering the Monk hood is major merit-generating act, most men spend part of their lives as monks. A young man will be initiated at about 5 years of age as a novice monk and remain in the Monk hood temporarily, for several days to several months. His initiation, a ritual re-enactment of the Buddha's own renunciation of material wealth and assumption of monastic discipline, is a major festive occasion; the initiate's head is shaved, and he receives a new name, recites the monastic vows, and dons the monk's brown robe.
During his Monk hood the novice obeys the same rules governing diet, celibacy, and material possessions that discipline the senior monks. He lives in the temple monastery, collect his morning food in the community, and recites the sacred texts. Temporary monks may return later in life either for another short period or to enter the Monk hood permanently.
Buddhist Nun hood
Nuns are also similar to the monks, heads shaved clean, but wears pink and orange robes.