It's Monday and that means another post containing my impressions of my Sunday journey to exotic places to learn about the various cultures and religions around the world. Yesterday my Mystic Lands "journey" took me to Myanmar, also known as Burma.
The program's actual title is Myanmar: Triumph of the Spirit, and appropriately begins with a brief look at the political and military oppression of the people there. Democracy has been suppressed and the people - of whom it is reported are 85% Buddhist - are considered one of the most spiritually infused cultures on earth.
The widespread practice of Theravada Buddhism, combined with traditional nat worship (the belief and worship of human-like supernatural deities that supposedly much predate their Lord Buddha), is given credit for the resiliency of this people who live under difficult and often inhumane conditions, in a country with rich but underdeveloped resources.
As one would expect, there is a bit of history about Siddhartha Guatama, commonly called simply the Buddha, and the history of his teachings. One of the more interesting legends mentioned concerns Buddha's image in the Maha Muni shrine, which allegedly was cast under orders of King Sanda Thuriya when Buddha visited there in 554 BC. The photo of this image above was taken from Wikipedia. I think it's stunning.
The practices of Burmese Buddhism, the various shrines and temples scattered throughout the land and built over many centuries, and the ancient traditions which are still observed in simple but meaning-rich ways make up the balance.
This is a gorgeous country and this program highlights that beauty. It is a sad thing that a better form of government and recognition of basic human rights haven't yet been obtained. A key quote, haunting though it is, from this program:
If this reclusive nation is to find its way in the future, it will succeed on the glory of its past and the will of its people.
May these people soon find the triumph they deserve.