Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

First of, I’m not a very devoted Buddhist anymore. I do not pray daily like I did till half a year ago. I still lie at times although I don’t kill/steal/drink/cheat with one’s spouse. If I have to come out with an excuse to conceal my laziness, it has to be my lack of commitment on studying more about it and meditating. Buddhism in Myanmar, to be precise, traditional Buddhism in Myanmar is too vague. Since a couple of years ago, I become to have a strong feeling that I must learn Buddhism via English resources. Many Myanmar might bash me for saying so but who are they to judge me?

Leave that aside, from time to time, I have been developing my tolerance and impression on other religions, or rather people who follow different religions. I have lots of Muslim friends – my first every best friend was a lovely Muslim girl, my first neighbour in my entire life was a very friendly Muslim family, one of my my first colleagues is a funny Muslim girl and I have been asked if I was a Muslim at times because of my facial appearance. Long story short, I do not have any problem with them just because they follow a different religion apart from a need of reminding myself not to talk about/eat pork when they are around. Same thing goes for Christians. In fact, I even feel like Christians in Myanmar are really lovely and fun to hang out as they have open mindset comparing to average Buddhists, a little bit more westernized in a way. And that is very cool with me. Needless to mention for Hinduism as my great great grandpa is a Hindu and even my parents still believe in some parts of Hinduism.

Being said, I do not really like the idea of discussing about religion with friends. What’s the point of doing so unless you are in an interfaith dialogue section? I feel it way more peaceful, fun and enjoyable whenever we do not discuss about it with people with various beliefs. For me, religion is something to practice yourself, not to show off to everyone around you as if you own a genuine diamond ring while theirs are intimate ones.

Here’s the point of those long winded intro. Very recently, a friend of mine chatted with me. She is my childhood friend whom I know since like 16 years ago. She is the one who had introduced me with Christian for first time ever when she had given away Christian leaflets in our primary class on her birthday as gifts to classmates. So, recently we were talking about childhood and all these stuff. She seems to love me so much even now and I love her, too. She is super adorable. Finally, she asked me what should she pray for me at church next time. I was like “Wow, she loves me that much?”. Then she concluded our conversation with “May God bless you.”

I kind of felt uneasy. To make it very clear, I am very thankful to have such a friend who would spend time for me during her religious session. And that made me think of all those “May God bless you” things. As there are very few religions in our world which are not based upon “God”, many people are very used to say “May God bless you” as if it was a greeting phrase. I am really thankful to be greeted so but I can’t help thinking if we actually need it? Of course, you should definitely do it with those whoever believe in God. But for other people who are atheists and who follow religions with different nature, would it even make sense? Yes, I know. Whoever saying “May God bless you” to me really care for me and want me to see fine with everything. I totally understand they say it with good will. But shouldn’t there be a better way to show our “love” with something  that is not related to religion? Wouldn’t it be a bit more comfortable?  Why do we need to bring “religion” to stress that we care our loved ones? Just my thoughts, you can differ freely. And I would still appreciate whoever would say this to me in future like I thank to whoever tell me to eat more vegetables although they know I have lachanophobia. (At this point, I consider literally like 15 times should I publish this or not as I do not want to lose friendship with any of my friends. I was kind of scared people would think me immature or intolerant. But I still want to do it so that you are reading it now. 🙂 ) 

And I still have no clue what should I reply apart from a boring “thanks” to “May God bless you” greeting. Should I reply something like

Impermanent are all created things, strive on with awareness.

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You might have read DOs and DON’Ts in Myanmar somewhere on Internet. But those are for the convinience of tourists and only very few visitors care for what locals would think for their acts during their stay in Myanmar.

This video is just to let you know what you should not do in Myanmar not to make locals feel that you are not paying respect to their culture.

DISCLAIMER : These are my own thoughts based on my experience as an average Myanmar citizen who come from a mixed Bamar family. The habits and perceptions of Myanmar people may vary from time to time and people from different states and divisions may have different cultural habit and society values.

Or should I have titled it as “Tolerance and Respect” instead to make myself sounds like a optimistic stuffed with positive imagination where no sun sets?

I have been asking a question to myself.

I have to admit that my mindset on racism and discrimination is being changed from time to time. Being said, I am not one of those easy pickings to change my hypothesis with a note or two on Facebook. But then again, I could not answer the above question….. yet.

This starts from a personal feeling – an unpleasant mood when I read the headlines saying my people are not tolerant at all – which I wish to deny. Concurrently, I have been reading many hatred comments regarding almost everything on Facebook and I can’t even read some of those till the end as those are too much for my eyes to swallow. Then I think, rethink and rethink. Where on earth those hatred comments came from!?

Intolerant people. Yes, I agree. It obviously seems that at least half of people in Myanmar online community are intolerant. They are not fond of things that are against with their religion, thoughts that are in common with their belief and news that they believe affecting  the sustainability of their culture. For instance, you would see their Facebook flooding with screams and shouts after a news about shoes with Buddha images or a foreign couple acting weird at Shwedagon Pagoda. They think those are insults to the religion they believe in, threats to what they value and humiliation to their culture that they have been grown up with. When it hurts their feelings, they couldn’t shut their mouth. They become to believe that silence could kill their culture and religion. They think they should act before things are getting worse.

On the other hand, apparently, other people take them as intolerant people. For those who think Buddha’s face is just a decoration item, putting it on shoes or even on bikini is nothing harmful. It’s not even a question. They may use it for fun as they are not intending to insult anyone. They would think in a way that why Buddhists seem so angry if Buddhism is a peaceful religion. And they start to define those Buddhists as intolerant people because they cannot tolerate what people did to the symbols of their religion. Talking about Shwedagon, it is an incredible place. People who do not follow Myanmar cultural aspects closely might even take it as a picnic spot. They might question “What’s so wrong with lying down with revealing clothes, hugging each other with this stunning view of giant pile of gold?” Again, whoever criticize them become just intolerant people who do not have knowledge of other cultures and forms of freedom.

My own thoughts are mixed.

  • If people do not do any acts that could be an insult to another group of people in anyway, there would be no intolerance.
  • If people do not bother what others do to their culture and religion and ignore all the disrespect, there would be no intolerance.

6-2 is 4 while 2+2 is also 4. I am nowhere near to let people know what should be the way to go. For me personally, as long as I am a devoted Buddhist in my own opinion, I would ignore all those stuffs what people do to Buddha or Myanmar. I have seen a little kid on Instagram who names himself as “Shwedagon1”. When I pointed out that what would he feel if I name my Instagram account as “Catholic Church1”, he replied that those were two different things which left me speechless. I finally become to understand that west cultures is way too different from that of east that it would take a century or two to make them understand the way we think on religion or cultural related stuffs. If so, why should we bother to blame others for doing things that we have no control over?